Many people think that a stay home mom gets to enjoy the best time of her life.
When we mentioned ‘stay home mom’, the image that surface tends to be an hourglass figure mom with shiny blonde hair, curled and tied neatly into a ponytail. Not forgetting those beautifully manicured nails that get to enjoy their weekly spa sessions more than the epicurean connoisseur.
This would have been true if the duties of a mom don’t involve a countless list of life duties that include expectations.
These days, stay home mom deserves a nomination in the Academy Awards too! It is not easy to portray that sweet, smiling mom at the supermarket, and the growling, steam-coming-out-of-the-ears mom at home. Takes a lot of practices and training to be one of the best performance artists.
Truth is, a stay home mom has one of the toughest job ever.
Here was my usual stay home mom schedule:
6 am – Prepare breakfast
6.15 am – Drag little sleepy heads out of bed
6.30 am – Warzone at the breakfast table
7 am – Drop them off at school
7.30 am – Prepare the preschooler’s breakfast
8.30 am – Drop preschooler off at school
9 am – Breakfast for mom, and running errands such as grocery shopping or to the wet market for fresh produce
10 am – Walk the dog
10.45 am – Household errands such as washing the laundry, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms
Noon – Preparing lunch for the older kids
12.30 pm – Lunch for mom
1.30 pm – Pick up the older kids from school
2 pm – Shower and lunch
3 pm – Ferry around to drop the kids off at their dance lessons, gymnastics, swimming, etc
4.30 pm – Head home, pick up preschooler from school
5 pm – Get the kids to do their homework
5.30 pm – Prepare for family dinner
6 pm – Dinner is served
7 pm – Homework revision with the kids
8 pm – Shower time
8.30 pm – Unwind with the family
9.30 pm – Prepare for bed
Realize the me-time is missing? That’s hard to schedule into a daily planner because you never know when the kids will be falling asleep or if they’ll even be in bed at 9.30 pm. In Singapore, our kids start school from 7.30 am to 1.30 pm, and childcare operates till 7 pm to cater to the schedules of working parents.
Why I Became A Stay Home Mom
When my second son was born, I decided to spend more time with him and to help my eldest adjust to having a sibling. I soon realized that it was nowhere near the holiday image I had in my mind.
It was more hard work than having a 9-5 job. I barely had the energy to even put on my make up!
I was an interior designer, meeting clients, and managing multiple projects as part of my job scope before I became a full-time stay home mom. I thought that if I can handle difficult clients and complicated projects, handling my children will not be of much an issue. I never anticipated that telling my boys to stop yelling is like telling the picture frames on the walls to stop tilting.
Not long after, we conceived our third boy. That extended my ‘job’ as a stay home mom and as much as I couldn’t wait to be back to the designer world, I was already starting to miss their laughter and their screams.
Yes, I missed their whines and screams.
I missed holding them in my arms, and I missed seeing their little eyes light up with joy when we are going to the supermarket. That’s how I continued to be a stay home mom, but with small home-based businesses as my side hustle to diversify my energy into other areas. One thing I’ve learned is to never put 24 hours of your thoughts and energy into merely your chores and kids. It will drain your energy in such slow motion that you wouldn’t even realize until the day you conscientiously look into the mirror only to find the haggard version of the Evil Witch in Snow White staring back at you.
The one thing I was struggling with as a stay home mom was having to be all over the place, at the same time.
I had to set my alarm clock earlier than I used to, and many responsibilities involuntarily fell onto my shoulders. Everything was chaotic the moment I opened my eyes, the couch became my golden seat. Although I was blessed with an understanding husband, I tried very hard to be the perfect wife and mom, and soon it became so overwhelming I was falling ill every other week. This not only affected my mood, everyone living with me was trying to stay the radar. Household items unfortunately fell victim to my frustrations and I felt like the worst mom on the planet.
If you are also wearing the same shoes as me, this post is the right one for you!
I was standing under the rain shower one fine night, exhausted and tired of everything that is going on, and it suddenly hit me.
I had no proper planning or routines that caused me to be unproductive day after day.
Today, let me share with you 8 simple steps that helped me increase my productivity and hopefully increases yours too!
#1 Have a To-Do List
You might feel like you are responsible to carry out every task since you are the one staying home, having the flexibility to go wherever you want, doing whatever you want. Trust me, this is an expectation on other people’s minds, not yours.
A to-do list is a schedule of plans you want to complete each day. However, it does not mean that you have to complete every single one of them unless time is on your side. Moms are always busy, even sipping coffee is to do something. Be practical of the tasks you wish to complete, keeping in mind the availability of time you have on that day. Do not overestimate your mommy powers and have a list that is as long as an arm. Be realistic and work within your means.
#2 Be Flexible
As a mom, last-minute changes and chaos are the best buddies for life. Plans are seldom known to sail smoothly through the day, especially when you have a toddler in the house. You might decide to do watercolor art on papers but your toddler decided that the walls are in desperate need of decorations. Many disasters can arise and you wish that Dr. Strange is by your side at that moment for you to put yourself through the hole to another dimension.
Last-minute changes do not sit well with me, even up to today. Learning to accept and making decisions is part of the job of being a productive stay home mom. Instead of thinking of the negative side of the situation, since it is something you cannot avoid, think about how you are going to handle it like a professional. If you need to, take deep breaths, have some water (or wine), before making any decisions.
#3 Create A Chore Chart
You want to have a clean home, but no rule states that the utensils and bathtubs have to sparkle. You can wash and fold the laundry on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, vacuuming on Tuesday, cleaning the bathrooms on Saturdays. Take Sundays off and go for your family outings.
And here’s a little secret – your kids can help with the household chores too! Never underestimate the power of household chores, they teach your kids responsibility and independence. Your kids can help out with the chores as early as two years old by starting to pack up their toys. You can increase the difficulty of each chore as they reach their next milestone. Your older kids can help with the vacuuming, wash and dry the dishes, load the washing machine, clean up their rooms, etc.
#4 Time Management
Every one of us only has 24 hours a day. Your mind and body can only function for a certain number of hours, with breaks in between. How will you be able to complete multiple tasks every day then?
One of the best time management techniques ever created is the Pomodoro Technique. All you need is a timer, set it to 25 minutes, and focus on ONE task each time. It doesn’t matter whether you complete the task (usually you will with full concentration), once the timer rings, give yourself a short break and move on to the next task. After every 4 tasks, reward yourself with a long break to let your mind rest and recharge. This technique is really useful and has been proven to have helped organizations and professionals alike.
#5 Have A Set of Routines
Routines are a very important part of our lives. If you already have them, good for you! Otherwise, it’s never too late to start exploring what works best for you. You can start with morning and night routines, as you get used to doing the same routine daily (even on weekends), your mind and body go on an autopilot mode. You would not even need to put it on your planner to know that this activity is something you need to do.
Routines not only help to bring calmness, but it also improves your decision-making process. You will find that you will have an easier time scheduling your planner, and it increases your productivity level.
#6 Go out to Breathe The Fresh Air
There are so many health benefits when you are out breathing the fresh air. The increase of sun exposure not only reduce depression, it also triggers the body’s production of Vitamin D.
I love to be around nature, being around those towering trees and beautiful flowers can be very therapeutic. Have a morning stroll at your nearby park, or go for a jog around the neighborhood. Being couped at home for too long makes the mind stale, and it prevents you from making proper decisions. This will affect your productivity rate for the day, and you might end up finding yourself unable to complete the tasks you’ve set.
#7 Have Home Workout Videos
The thing which made me felt the most depressed was not having the energy to work out when I become a stay home mom. The gym was my best hangout place when I was working and I had aimed to keep it that way. Since there was no way you could change the schedule of your kids’ activities, you can adjust your schedule to keep fit and healthy.
YouTube videos are one of my favorite apps and I could remain positive and productive throughout the day. You will be surprised to find countless of workout videos on YouTube, suitable for every body type. If you are pressed for time, you can look for short videos to follow along while waiting for the food to cook!
#8 Have Nutritious Meals and Stay Hydrated
Water was never my best friend until I came across an article on the benefits of water. When you are feeling less motivated and increased fatigue, try hydrating your body with water – infused it with fruits to add flavors to the water, or chia seeds to take advantage of the health benefits it has to offer. You will find yourself feeling more recharged and ready to go again.
It’s tested and proven. By none other than yours sincerely.
Nutritious meals do not have to be heavy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is perfectly fine to have small, frequent meals in a day by including healthy snacks.
Too much caffeine does reduce your productivity level, so you might want to cut down on that. My maximum cups of coffee to go is 3, which is considered too much to some but anything below and I’ll have been a malfunctioned stay home mom.
Most important of all, do not skip breakfast if you want to boost your energy and keep up your productivity rate!
Being a stay home mom can have so many benefits, yet if you do not invest time into planning your daily schedules, you might not be able to enjoy those family time you had initially looked forward to. Never drown yourself into those never-ending chores, leading depression your way when you can’t finish them.
Have fun going into trial and error with your daily planner, no one schedule fits all. Some days you feel productive and extra charged, some days you just feel like feeding the family with fast food and that’s about it. There’s no right or wrong and that’s the beauty of being a stay home mom!
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